December 26th started out as a gloomy, ho-hum day here in Charleston, South Carolina. A cold rain had spoiled Christmas and the bleak weather continued throughout the following day. Snow was falling but would not stick…the air was cluttered with little droplets of frozen H2O doing a kamikaze dance to an unwelcome terra firma.
My daughter, who is in the Coast Guard, was home on leave and had decided to spend the afternoon with friends. Alone, bored, and experiencing sudden fatigue due to type 2 diabetes, I went to the spare bedroom and laid down on a comfortable single bed to continue reading a ragged Book Club edition of The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury.
My little bed was right next to a large picture window with a pillow right next to the curtain. I got to page 40 of the book when I decided to peek out the window to see if the snow had turned to rain. Pulling back the curtain, I was startled to see a strange, out-of-place object nestled on the window ceil just inches from my nose. It took me a moment to focus and my first thought that some strange species of mammal had found a home in that lonely spot. It wasn’t moving…maybe it had crawled there to die? Looking closer, I realized that this was no living thing. It was, in fact:
A HUGE, DEFORMED HAIRBALL
I am both a cat person and a dog person. I have both dogs and cats and am quite familiar with the endless variety of objects that these critters can expel from their various orifices. I have spent many an hour chunking crusty cat turds from the litter box to the toilet bowl and chasing vomiting dogs around the house with harsh words and wet paper towels. The nooks and crannies of my humble abode are teeming with gifts awaiting discovery…offerings and salutations dropped indiscriminately by my four-legged friends. I can honestly say that nothing in this genre has struck me as memorable…until now.
I don’t make it a habit of composing eulogies for something as mundane as a cat hairball but this one was unique…one of a kind…huge and alien…unlike any hairball that I have ever seen. It bore a disturbing resemblance to something which two troll dolls would produce were these strange little manifestations of our consumer culture able to bear offspring (or perhaps the placenta from such a union). I have often wondered if there is some deeper meaning to their malignant little smiles and their chubby cheeks.
As I contemplated the troll/hairball resemblance, my mind was working in its usual perverted
manner…teeming with bizarre and inappropriate imagery. I pictured myself onstage at Lincoln Center singing altered lyrics to “Send in the Clowns” by Stephen Sondheim:
Isn’t it rich?
Isn’t it queer?
Losing my timing this late in my career
And where are the trolls?
There ought to be trolls…Maybe next year.
A closer examination of the object in question left no doubt in my mind as to which cat was responsible. The intestinal toupee protruding from the hairball was jet black, which meant that the culprit was Lucky the cat. I also call him Alpha Junior because, once Grey Boy goes to cat heaven or cat hell or cat purgatory (or wherever it is that cats go when they shake this mortal cat coil), Lucky will assume the mantle of the baddest feline in the bunch. Until that day comes, however, Lucky just has to suffer the claws and hisses of outrageous fortune.
When I was a kid I would visit friend’s houses and notice that their parents had sent their baby shoes off to be encased in bronze and used as book ends on shelves. I don’t think you can get hairballs bronzed so I have to settle for a different memorial. I carefully scraped the other-worldly hairball from the window and gave it a prominent place in a glass case in my living room. Hopefully, when I pass on, my children will recognize the importance of this Lucky Hairball and it will become a family heirloom. I just hope that they don’t wind up fighting over it and threatening legal action. Families have broken up over less than this…